LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan wrote the closing chapter of his storied career on Sunday afternoon, helping his side squeeze past the New England Revolution with a 2-1 extra-time win in the MLS Cup final in his last match before retirement.
Striker Gyasi Zardes had opened the scoring seven minutes after half-time to place the Galaxy in front, before Revolution left-back Chris Tierney responded in the final 15 minutes to force extra-time.
It was league MVP Robbie Keane who delivered when it mattered most, however, collecting a Marcelo Sarvas pass over the top and tucking home the winner after 111 minutes to give LA their third championship in four seasons and ensure Donovan himself would go out at the age of 32 with an unprecedented six titles to his name.
The all-time MLS leader in both goals and assists, Donovan wasn’t involved in the game as much as he would have liked, but that didn’t stop him from celebration in euphoric fashion in front of his own fans at the StubHub Center.
“I’m in a little bit of a daze, to be honest,” he said during his postgame press conference. “I don’t know. There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of obvious excitement, some sadness, there’s uncertainty, and just pure joy for this team and for what we did.
“It just feels a bit strange, I guess is the best way to put it, but all in all, I’m really proud of what this team accomplished this year and it’s so nice to be in that locker room and see so many happy faces. For me, that’s as enjoyable as anything as you get older.”
Added long-time head coach Bruce Arena: “Don’t we all wish to be able to leave what we do like the way Landon did today as a winner?
“He ends his career as arguably the greatest player in the history of U.S. Soccer, the national team program; in the league, the all-time leading scorer and assists, championships.
“What more can you say? Can you write that any better, that script? I’m happy for him. He’s spent, he’s done, and my hat is off to him. It’s been remarkable.”
Leaving an unprecedented legacy behind him, Donovan’s standing as the greatest player the US has ever produced is now undisputed, with numerous fans, friends, media members and teammates moving to hail his impact on the sport in the States at the final whistle.
They just changed the dictionary. They now have a picture of @landondonovan next to the word "champion" and "legend"...— Stefan Ishizaki (@StefanIshizaki) December 8, 2014
Feel so lucky to have grown up with LD. How many change a sport's culture — and do so graciously, candidly, humanly, and on their own terms?— Zack Goldman (@ThatDamnYank) December 8, 2014
It was always going to be once Landon announced his retirement mid season #storybook#hollywood#30for30 ... Congrats on all you've done— Amobi Okugo (@amobisays) December 7, 2014
Congrats to LA Galaxy and Landon Donovan going out as a champ. Robbie Keane shows why he is the MVP scoring the game winner.— Sacha Kljestan (@SachaKljestan) December 7, 2014
Happy to see Donovan go out like that. Much deserved for what he's done for the sport. #ThankYouLandon— Emerson Hyndman (@emersonhyndman) December 7, 2014
Miss you, Landon.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) December 7, 2014
I miss you, LD.— Maxi Rodriguez (@FutbolIntellect) December 7, 2014
I'll miss the hell out of you, Landon Donovan.— Neil W. Blackmon (@nwblackmon) December 7, 2014